Monday, April 22, 2013

Promotion vs. Prevention Focus: How Do You See Your Goals?

Social psychologist and best-selling author Heidi Grant Halvorson has published a new book titled, "Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing The World for Success and Influence.  Halvorson explains the difference between promotion-focused individuals and prevention-focused individuals.   People with a promotion focus  tend to perceive goals as opportunities to gain something.   People with a prevention focus tend to think about goals in terms of what they might lose if they don't achieve their objectives.   Promotion-focused individuals have high aspirations and are willing to take risks to achieve grand objectives.  Prevention-focused individuals tend to try to avoid mistakes and losses.  They are more risk averse.   They are more focused on their duties and obligations; they strive to be the steady, stabilizing hand as opposed to the adventurer charting new territory.  

Halvorson does not advocate one focus over another.  Instead, she emphasizes the need for people to understand the perspective of those with whom they are working and collaborating.   Recognizing that you may have a different focus than your partner or team member can be the first step toward more effective collaboration.  Actually understanding and appreciating their different perspective helps even more!   For more on this topic, check out this brief article in the Wall Street Journal about Halvorson's work. 

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